Despite a profligate fielding performance, which resulted in no fewer than SEVEN dropped catches, Stanton-by-Dale battled to a hard-fought losing draw at runaway leaders Burton.
Amid a rain-hit season in Division 6S of the Derbyshire County League, relegation-threatened Stanton were relieved to complete a full match. And although they were never in with a prayer of springing an upset against their Staffordshire hosts, who amassed a total of 260-4, they did at least show plenty of resilience in batting out for the draw, finishing on 110-4.
It was such a pity about the calamitous display in the field, which is an area of the game where they have consistently exhibited significantly higher standards. The fact that it was an anomaly was no comfort to the bowlers, who toiled through wind, rain and some exceptionally clean hitting from the Burton top order.
After being put in, the hosts got off to a cautious start, scoring only 24 in the first ten overs. But they soon increased the tempo, with opener Brad Elson (76, two sixes and three fours) sharing stands of 81 with Anthony Adams (33) and then 89 with skipper Jamie North.
Increasingly indispensable spinner Sandeep Verma (3-70 in 14 overs) came on to remove both Adams and Elson, but North went on to make 90, hitting five sixes and five fours) and featuring in another big partnership of 64, this time with Mohammed Safeer, who blasted a rapid 44. The pair made a mockery of a slow, damp wicket and enabled Burton to declare three overs early.
That meant Stanton had three extra overs in which to survive, but they successfully took the sting out of the home attack, despite losing Dave Alton for four early on. Fellow opener Andy Taylor was the only batsman to play with any fluidity, making 41, but as the game coasted towards the draw, skipper Chris Guest (15), Dave Grummitt (13no), John Weston (13no) and Verma (11) all contributed towards the reargaurd action.